Design Engineering
Showcase

Arborea

Team
Design Team
Supervisor
Dr Nicolas Rojas/Dr Hamed Haddadi
Role
Mechanical Design Engineer
Sector
Sustainability

Arborea is a start-up with the mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable food production. They are working to achieve this by implementing new technologies in algaculture, the farming of algae. There is a wide range of healthy food ingredients which can be extracted from algae, and whilst it grows it intakes large amounts of CO2. During my time at Arborea I worked within a team to design and build a manufacturing system for an important component required for each algae farm.

 — Arborea

Demonstration of Design Engineering Thinking and Skills

Disclaimer: My work at Arborea involved confidential technologies, so I am unable to discuss it in detail or show concrete examples.

I worked on one project at Arborea, co-ordinating with other team members. We were advancing a manufacturing process by making it more precise, with the ultimate goal of automating it. To begin with, this involved learning how their technology worked and understanding the system objectives. Following this, I carried out a phase of research and iterative design through sketching and CAD, guided by feedback from the other team members. I also performed cost analysis for each iteration. We planned to develop the system in stages, so this helped us identify what each one might be and what was economically viable for the first stage. Once this was finalised, we ordered the parts and I was able to assemble the system. For the final week of my placement I was able to spend time fine tuning and optimising it as well as carrying out tests.

In addition to this project I also worked on day to day operational tasks within the company. These involved working with their pilot algae system on various maintenance tasks, but also regularly taking algae samples and recording experimental data.

Role and Contributions

As a Mechanical Design Engineer, I was able to bring creative methodologies to the design process, whilst simultaneously leveraging and expanding my knowledge of mechanical processes. My design engineering background also prepared me to be adaptable and rapidly learn about the industry, given I had no prior experience with algae. This allowed me to develop an understanding of the context for the work I was doing.

The manufacturing process I was improving is for an important component required for each algae farm. Being able to manufacture the component much faster and without human error is needed as the company will be scaling up soon, so speed of manufacture will be necessary. Whilst I have not seen the project through to its completion, I have been able to contribute to it and carry out tests to better inform its future development.

Summary

Working at Arborea has been a great opportunity to broaden my engineering knowledge and put my skills to use in a professional environment. I have enjoyed learning about a completely new field and industry, particularly as it is one which has the possibility of having a large impact on the future. Our current food production practices are unsustainable, and Arborea is working to change this. I am proud to have worked for a company driving positive change in the world.

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